Designer Diary: Email Marketing (Again)

One of the most recurring topics on the DTRPG discord is how to do marketing if you don’t want to do marketing. Creative types are notoriously bad at marketing and often equate it to trying to hard sell. Another version is the impostor syndrome, where creatives don’t want to sing the praises of what they have done because they think people will call them out on it.

What these people crave is a non-marketing solution. Some magic way of selling more books without having to do anything or tell anyone about it.

Many of the people I see asking about this are hoping for someone else to do their marketing for them, probably on a commission, so there is no upfront cost. Or at the very least, they want an exact step-by-step recipe for success.

There is always someone that mentions Twitter. On the face of it, Twitter looks like a good option. It is free, easy to use, and it looks like you can build a sizable audience quite quickly.

The downside is that Twitter has a truly terrible conversion rate. You may not be spending money, but you will be spending an inordinate amount of time per sale generated. The short answer is that Twitter doesn’t work, to which someone will pipe up and say that they get sales from Twitter. I accept that they do. All the figures say that if they invested the same amount of time and effort into almost anything else they would have sold more books than they did on Twitter, but you cannot take away that they did sell some books on Twitter.

The solution is this problem is email.

You do not need to hard sell, in fact, I would recommend the opposite. You can set up a webpage with an email sign-up form in next to no time. Mailchimp will give you a free list for up to 2000 subscribers, and there is a WordPress plugin that has a completely free version.

Get the sign-up form set up, and make sure your website is listed in your publisher profile on DTRPG.

Don’t call your newsletter a newsletter. No one reads email newsletters or almost no one. Newsletters sound very one way, you sending and your customer base reading. Mine is all about solo tips, advice, and discounts. I am giving value with every email I send.

Now you can let that form sit there and collect contacts.

When you have something interesting to say, such as a new thing launched, you can tell people about it. If you have limited slots for playtesters, invite people on your list to take those slots – make it first come, first served, or even a random lottery. You won’t be able to take everyone. You can offer rewards, give the playtesters a copy of the finished adventure and a discount off other stuff as well as a thank you.

You can also ask your contact list questions. We cannot afford professional focus groups, but you can ask people their honest opinions on things.

If they have trusted you with their email, they are on your side, they are unlikely to tear you to pieces.

I would suggest that it takes less time to write an interesting email than it does to write an effective tweet. And no one will complain if you only email once a month!

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